The Machine Economy Innovators Challenge

By innogy Innovation Hub

Award ceremony 28th September

Creating the new ethical machine economy

This summer the innogy Innovation Hub called for entrepreneurs to lay a strong foundation for sustainable business in the machine economy. Blockchain, machine learning, self-organizing systems, and artificial intelligence are well underway to change our lives in every aspect.

At the innogy Innovation Hub, we believe three core categories will be radically affected by this rapid change: our global society, the way we do business and our changing culture characteristics. How will the relationship between humans and machines evolve as we move into the Machine Economy era?

We were looking for visionary start-ups and exceptional individual thinkers with real solutions to enable an ethical machine economy ecosystem in three categories: society, business, and culture.

Our winners

Beginning of August, we finished the competition with 150 applications across 27 countries worldwide. Now, we are proud to announce our five winners, selected by our expert jury.

Winners of the IPRIZE 2017

Culture – Human co-existence with AIs

  • Own.Space OWN is a visual collaboration platform where humans form teams with artificial agents. These are programmed to solve specific tasks and answer questions. OWN aims to become a market place for artificial intelligence that empowers knowledge workers to focus on the important aspects of their jobs and allow understanding than never before.

Society – Unemployment, safe zones and meaning of life

  • Coach.AI A virtual coach that uses artificial intelligence and behavioral psychology to reach the tipping point to overcome peoples´ daily challenges – creating a lasting behavioral change. CoachAi is a personal companion to each user, enabling them to establish healthier habits by increasing motivation and accountability.

Business – zero margin economy, new business models and taxation

  • Becker Create Creating the Digital Building Store to revolutionize the Design and Build industry. Becker Create built a platform that allows complete rendering of Building Information Model (BIM) for a smart house or building. A Digital Twin of the building enables self-management and reduces costs in the construction and maintenance of buildings.

Winning Scholars

  • OpenEth OpenEth is a data set of ethics to empower moral reasoning engines. It is founded on the principle that ethics and morality can be measurable, definable and computable, across cultures, time and geography. We believe that the future of a thriving humanity in an artificially intelligent world is predicated on the ability to create moral and ethical machines.
  • HuMa Lab HuMa Lab exists to explore and explain the evolving relationship between humans and machines to identify current and forthcoming societal imperatives. HuMa Lab believes increased engagement, input, information and collaboration is necessary to actively shape our shared future with thinking machines. By democratizing aspects of AI development, HuMa Lab seeks to ensure our intent is realized through the social contract we co-create with machine intelligence.

Thanks to all of our 150 applicants who applied for our global start-up competition, the IPRIZE. We understand all applications as another backbone of the innovation ecosystem. In this regard we are very much looking forward to creating the tomorrow's solutions with you as start-ups and innovative individuals all over the world.

Thanks to AIRTEAM for suporting us in the IPRIZE Award ceremony!

Important dates


June 1, 2017

Application Deadline

August 4, 2017

Finalists Selected

Sept 1, 2017


Sept 28, 2017

The IPRIZE categories

Society -  Unemployment, safe zones and meaning of life

Society -  Unemployment, safe zones and meaning of life

Experts predict that by 2025 robots and digital agents will displace a significant quantity of both blue-collar and white-collar workers. Even complex routines performed by skilled workers such as lawyers will be affected by robots, smart contracts and AI. Recent analysis by Frey and Osborne at Oxford suggests that autonomous robots could impact up to 50% of jobs, leaving only jobs that require complex problem solving or creativity. There will be huge implications for industries such as health, car manufacture, transport, logistics, customer service and home maintenance.

  • What are the “safe zones” that require creativity, high level thinking and relationship building and are therefore less vulnerable to automation?
  • What kind of new products will emerge?
  • What are we going to do with our free time?
  • What is the purpose of life if we stand idle?

We will award at least one applicant in this category who is developing solutions for the interaction of society and machines in the future. Your solution should be suitable for further development and commercial use. Apply now!

Business - Zero margin economy, new business models and taxation

Business - Zero margin economy, new business models and taxation

Exponential organizations that are better, faster and cheaper will ultimately lead to a zero-margin economy. Automation, self-optimizing machines and decentralized open-sourced technologies will make it increasingly hard to make money. This will reduce purchasing power and affect demand in the wider economy. There will be huge implications for taxation and business models of the future. Thought leaders are concerned that our existing economic and political structures – and especially taxation – no longer fit to a world that is decentralized, autonomous and machine-powered.

Example list

  • Who will pay for all this new world, if there is a broad base of unemployed people?
  • What are the machine-powered business models of the future?
  • What will the currency of the future look like?
  • What are the banks of the future? Do we need an energy bank for the machine economy?

We will award at least one applicant in this category who is developing solutions for the interaction of society and machines in the future. Your solution should be suitable for further development and commercial use. Apply now!

Culture - Human co-existence with AIs

Culture - Human co-existence with AIs

We will ask machines to learn to perform even more complex tasks, make decisions that we previously thought only humans could be trusted to make and start to provide advice and recommendations in higher risk areas. Clever technology make fewer mistakes than people. A super intelligent system may become more reliable than even the most intelligent information worker. But at some point it will make a mistake. Elon Musk has donated $10 million to the Future of Life Institute to “run a global research program aimed at keeping AI beneficial to humanity”.

  • Which technologies will arise to enhance human capacities that we can live and work with AIs on an equal basis?
  • How can we ensure that AI powered machines support human development and happiness? Will they remain peers or become resource-high jacking enemies?
  • Who is liable when there are accidents and malfunctions?
  • How well do current insurance products and policy wording cover these new exposures?

We will award at least one applicant in this category who is developing solutions for the interaction of society and machines in the future. Your solution should be suitable for further development and commercial use. Apply now!

The prizes


Winning early-stage start-ups will gain:

  • Seed Investments up to 250k
  • Investments as a convertible loan
  • 1 prize per category


Together with our partner GTEC we award individuals a 6 months scholarship including:

  • Office space
  • 2,000€/month stipend
  • Monthly 1:1 mentoring
  • Idea awards in any category


  1. What is the IPRIZE? The IPRIZE is an international competition to explore the implications of the new machine economy on society, culture and business. We want to lay a strong foundation for developing new business models and use technology to benefit humanity. The IPRIZE addresses early stage startups and individuals that are dedicated to seize the opportunities in this field to make the world a better place.
  2. Who can apply? Knowing that successful innovation come in many shapes and forms and need different kinds of support along their development, we wish to encourage ideas at multiple stages of development by awarding prizes in two categories. For one, we are looking for early stage start-ups working on business models that enable the transition towards the machine economy future. The three best start-ups, one in each category, will get seed investment of up to € 250k. In addition to that we want to support the best individuals investigating opportunities in the machine economy. Two individual applicants will receive a six months idea incubation support which includes € 2k/month stipend, free Berlin central office space and 1:1 mentoring. For the individual application no preconditions are required.
  3. What are the application criteria? Your solutions must be suited for commercial use and entail a short term and long term initiative to make the world a better place. If you are working on a project dealing with artificial intelligence, blockchain, automation, machine learning - anything assisting in the transition to a world where humans coexist with machines - then we welcome your application.
  4. My solution doesn’t directly answer the questions listed in the categories above. Can I still apply? Yes, your solution does not necessarily need to answer the specific questions listed above. The questions serve as a guideline for what we are looking for. If your solutions address completely new questions we haven’t thought about yet – even better!
  5. What stage do I need to be in? Early stage as a start-up to compete for the seed investment. No requirements for the individual price.
  6. When is the IPRIZE finale ceremony? The finalists of each category will pitch live at the UnConference on September 28, 2017 in Berlin.
  7. Who will be judging the contest? Representatives of the innogy Innovation Hub and GTEC and ecosystem experts.